Myocarditis is a complication that can occur in cancer patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Although the adverse event is rare—affecting less than 1% of patients given the immunotherapy—the mortality rate is nearly 50%. Now, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center have identified the mechanism for the deadly heart inflammation.
The researchers discovered that T-cells recognizing the cardiac antigen α-myosin are the mechanism for this complication, setting the framework to identify biomarkers so at-risk patients can be recognized and medical strategies developed for them to tolerate the immunotherapy. Their findings are reported Nov. 16 in Nature.